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Brian Sampson’s Motor Racing

Brian Sampson racing his Dallara 393 AF3 at MallalaSpeco Thomas has long been associated with motor racing through the company’s owner, Brian Sampson and also Eddie Thomas, the founder of the original business, which was Eddie Thomas Speed Shop. Speco’s name has been prominent on the sides of many cars raced at tracks around the country since Brian acquired, reorganised and renamed the company in 1968.

However, Brian’s own racing history had its beginnings back in 1954 when he first completed in a hill climb on a private property at Tuerong Valley on the Mornington Peninsula. There, Brian drove his father’s MG TD sports car, and although the climb was short and on an unsealed surface, it must have ignited the spark to keep the passion for motor racing well and truly burning for more than 50 years.

Brian Sampson in his Morris Special at Phillip Island 1958He has raced at most circuits in Australia, including tracks and hill climbs with names unknown to younger generations and now possibly forgotten by his own generation. The hill climbs included Tuerong Valley, Mount Martha, Templestowe, Rob Roy, Lakeland and Hepburn Springs.

Race circuits include Fisherman’s Bend, Tarrawingee, Albert Park (original narrow road track—between the trees and no safety barriers), Phillip Island (1950s layout and surface), Calder Raceway (before and after it was sealed), Calder Park (Bob Jane era long and short circuits) Sandown (original circuit), Catalina, Warwick Farm, Amaroo Park, Oran Park long and short layouts, AIR–Adelaide International Raceway, Mallala (original and current tracks), Sandown (revised long and short designs), Surfers Paradise, Mount Panorama, Phillip Island (1970s and 1990s rebuilt circuit), Longford, Baskerville, Symmons Plains, Adelaide AGP Circuit, Calder (revised long and short circuits), Albert Park Current AGP Track and Sentul in Indonesia.

Winning at Bathurst 1975Literally hundreds of wins, both outright and class, have come from competing at all of these venues, from a hard-won 3rd place in the 1958 sports car race at Albert Park in his Supercharged Morris Special to winning, in November 2000, all three Formula Ford races in his RF77 Van Dieman and claiming 3rd outright in the Trans Tasman Challenge in Max Warwick’s beautiful McLaren M10 Formula 5000 at the Sandown Historic Races.

Long distance races were a specialty, beginning with 10th place at Albert Park in the 1955 "Argus" Moomba TT 100 Miles Sports Car Event driving an Austin Healy 100/4 through to 10th at his last Bathurst in 1990 driving with Bill O’Brien in the “Everlast” Commodore. The first long distance success came at the 1959 Armstrong 500 with a first in ‘A’ Class, driving a Renault Gordini with John Connolly.

Bathurst 1989, in a Walkinshaw CommodoreThe most notable was the memorable 1975 Bathurst win, co-driving with Peter Brock, but Brian also is very proud of the 1977 Oran Park Rothman’s 500 win in the Warren Cullen "Pioneer" L34 and his 1978 Rothmans 500 3rd place outright with Peter Williamson in a Toyota Celica. The 1980 Bathurst netted 4th place outright with Alan Browne in the Re-Car Commodore. In total, Brian competed in the Bathurst, Oran Park and Phillip Island Classics 20 times.

The teams that Brian drove for included BMC Australia—Austin Lancer, Rex Emmett — Renault Gordini, Tom Geoghan—Total Team Renault Gordini, Australian Motor Industries—Toyota Corona, Toyota Corolla, Triumph Spitfire, Triumph 2000, the fabulous factory Toyota Celica Sports Sedan, Harry Firth—HDT—L34, Gown and Hindaugh—L34 Warren Cullen Pioneer L34, Alan Browne Re-Car—,L34-A9X and Commodore, Winston Kim—MCB (Melbourne Clutch and Brake) Mitsubishi Starion in Production and Group ‘A,’ Peter Williamson Toyota, and long-time supporter Bill O’Brien of Everlast Industries—Falcon XD and Commodore (shown above finishing in 10th place in the 1990 classic).

Phillip Island 1970 in an Elfin Toyota F3 1100ccAlthough Brian had many successes in these shared driver endurance events, he actually prefers to control his own cars and racing programs. A list of cars that he has owned is shown below, and it can be seen that, after the first early years, his preference has been for “open wheelers.” His original business, the Engine Reconditioning company Motor Improvements, specialised in modifying and developing BMC motors, Ford 998cc–1600cc and later the Toyota Corolla and Celica motors for the original 1100cc and 1300cc F3, 1600cc F2 open wheelers, 1300cc Clubman and sports sedans. For many years, they were virtually unbeatable and, in fact, are still sought after by historic race car owners around Australia.

Spectrum 06 at Sandown Melbourne Cup Day 2004Brian is no longer racing in endurance races nor Formula Holdens/F4000. He is active in Historic racing, and also in the Victorian State Race Series in his Spectrum O6 Formula Ford (pictured left).

Since 2000 Brian has regularly competed in the Victorian State Race Series and Historic racing in one of his Formula Fords, averaging seven meetings a year over the last 13 years. During that period Brian has competed in the Australian Grand Prix support events in F3 and the Shannon’s Historic Demonstration in his prized ELVA BMW Mk8’s 2 litre sports car.

2013 marked Brian’s 59th year of racing, which has included a trip back to Mount Panorama after a 23 year absence. Brian and stepson Brendan competed in the Formula Ford support event for the AMOUR ALL 12-hour, both acquitting themselves well.

Although a little slower both on and off the track, Brian recently achieved his long-held ambition to celebrate his 78th birthday and reach his racing number 78 which he has carried since the early 60s. Celebrations were held with all the current Formula Ford competitors young and old at the Sandown State round in July 2013. A rousing rendition of happy birthday was sung to mark this wonderful achievement.

While remaining in good health Brian believes his racing days are drawing to an end, but he will remain actively involved with the Speco VHT motorsport program.
Cars Owned and Raced by Brian Sampson
Cars still owned are shown in blue (bold)
YearsCarClassEngineCap’yPrevious Owners
1950sMorris SpecialSports RacingMorris S/V1100Lyn Evans, Bob Jane
 Austin A/30Appendix JBMC A1100Used car yard
1960sAustin LancerAppendix JBMC B1600Repossession yard
 Morris EliteAppendix JBMC B1920Austin distributors
 Ford Super AngliaAppendix JFord 113E1290Ex police car
 Hillman Rally ImpAppendix JHillman1000Ex U.K. works car, Rootes Motors, Norm Beechey
 Toyota CoronaAppendix JCorona1600A.M.I. Racing
 Elfin StreamlinerSports/RacingMI Corolla1100Elfin Cars—
body and chassis
 Elfin Ford FJRacing AF2Ford1500Andy Brown
1970sElfin 600 F3Racing AF3MI Corolla1100Elfin Cars—Rolling Chassis
 Toyota CorollaSports SedanMI Corolla1300Team Toyota
 Cheetah Mk 4Sports SedanMI Corolla1300New from Brian Shead
 Cheetah Mk 5Racing AF3MI Corolla1300New from Brian Shead
 Cheetah Mk 6Racing AF3MI Corolla1300New from Brian Shead
 Cheetah Mk 6Racing AF2MI Celica1600Converted from AF3 car
 Toyota Celica GTSports SedanCelica GT1600Team Toyota
1980sAustin LancerHist App JBMC B1600Used car yard
 Cheetah Mk 6Formula/AtlanticFord BDA1600New from Brian Shead
 Cheetah Mk 8Racing AF2MI Ford1600MI SOHC conversion fitted to BDA
 Ralt RT4Formula/AtlanticFord BDA1600Re-Car, Alan Jones
 Chevron B8Hist Group OBMW2000Max Warwick, Peter Woodward
 Cheetah Mk 4BHist Group OFord T/C1600Colin Milne, Peter Macrow
 Cheetah Mk 5Racing AF2MI Corolla1300Derek Pringle, Peter Roach
 Cheetah Mk 6Racing AF2MI Celica1600Tom Crozier, Mike Stillwell; being converted to Hist Q
 Cheetah Mk 8Racing AF2VW Golf1600Vince McLauchlin
 Cheetah Mk 7Racing AF2MI Celica1600Rick Fabri
 Elva Mk 8SHist Group MBMW2000Winston Kim, John Ould, Peter Brennan, Brian Carty
 Chevron B29Hist Group QFord BDA1600David Oxton, Brian Redman
1990sCheetah Mk 9Formula HoldenHolden V63800Peter Glover
 Reynard 913Racing AF2VW Golf1600Arthur Abrahams
 Lola Buick T87/50Formula LibreBuick V64200Robert Bailey, Bob Minogue, Alan Hamilton
 Dallara 393Racing AF2,VW Golf 16001600Simon Hardwidge
  Now AF3 VW Golf2000 
 Lola T91/50Formula HoldenHolden V63800Barry Ward
 Dallara 391 – AlfaRacing AF2Alfa Romeo Twin Spark2000Sam Astuti
 Elva CourierHist Sports SABMC B1930Winston Kim, Ian McDonald
2000sVan Dieman RF77Hist F/FordFord1600Mike Beeley
 March 77BHist Group QFord BDA1600Brian Robertson, Danny Sullivan, Colin Giltrap NZ
 Spectrum O6Formula FordFord1600Ken Douglas, Ray Stubber
 Palliser WDF3Hist F/FordFord1600Peter Finlay, Peter Hill, Andrew Makin
 Lola T342Hist F/FordFord1600Mark Bisset, USA import
 Spectrum 011Formula FordFord1600New car, delivered 2006
2010sSpectrum 010bFormula FordFord1600Brett Hobson, Nick Percat, Nicki Templar
 Lola T644Historic Group RFord1600;Bruin Beasley, U.K. import
 Spectrum O11Formula FordDuratec T/C1600Keith Sharman
 Reynard 83FFHistoric Group RFord1600Jeremy Braithwaite, Don Holland, David Lubransky
 Toyota CelicaHist S/SedanToyota T/C1750AMI Toyota, Brian Sampson, Brian Hilton, Caesar Franklin, Ross Forbes, Richard Watts
 Palliser Formula Ford

Paliser Formula Ford
Being rebuilt — owned but not yet raced  
 Brabham BT35Hist Group OFord T/C1600Kurt Seeburg, Paul England
 Ralt RT3Hist Group RVW Golf1600Sean Cussell, Lucio Ceasario, Bob Power, Graham Watson
 Ralt RT3Hist Group RVW Golf1600Keith Morling, Wayne Ford
 Elfin 623Hist Group QMI Corolla1300Ross Gordon
 Van Dieman RF86Hist F/FordFord1600Neville Wills

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